Liverpool will be confident of securing all three points when they welcome out of form Aston Villa to Anfield on Saturday (17:30 GMT, live on Sky Sports).
Brendan Rodgers’ side have enjoyed a very good season and are fourth in the Premier League table with 42 points from 13 wins, three draws and five defeats. They were involved in a highly entertaining match last weekend, winning 5-3 away to Stoke City.
It was the latest high-scoring result for the Reds in a season that has seen them score 51 goals in 21 matches. They have scored four or more goals on six occasions and have only twice failed to score. Luis Suarez (pictured) has received most of the plaudits, and rightfully so with a record of 22 goals in 16 appearances, but others are also contributing.
Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to score his 10th goal in 13 appearances last weekend, while Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling have both impressed with bright performances over the last month. Liverpool’s energetic midfield trio of Joe Allen, Jordan Henderson and Lucas Leiva have starred in winning possession and moving the ball forward quickly and accurately.
Rodgers has clearly realised that his side’s strengths lie in the final third, but this approach does leave Liverpool quite open and makes it difficult for them to exert control. They have kept just two clean sheets in their last 10 league matches and although it is not a major concern at this moment, Liverpool could face problems if their attacking productivity slows.
Rodgers will be without long term injury absentees Daniel Agger (calf), Jose Enrique (knee) and Sebastian Coates (knee) for Saturday’s match, while the fixture is also likely to come a little too soon for John Flanagan (hamstring). Joe Allen (groin) and Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) are both expected to return.
Aston Villa come into Saturday’s match on the back of just one victory in their last eight matches in all competitions. They are currently in a solid 11th place in the Premier League table, with 23 points from six wins, five draws and 10 defeats, but need to start picking up points soon if they are to avoid falling into the relegation scrap.
Paul Lambert has come under pressure from an increasingly frustrated supporter base despite the fact that Villa currently have four more points than at the same stage last season and a goal difference that has improved by a full 17 goals. Indeed, Villa are ahead of teams like Norwich, Swansea and West Ham, all of whom spent more money last summer.
Villa are primarily a counter-attacking side, with the second lowest average share of possession in the league (42%) and the highest number of long balls as a percentage of total passes (17.92%). They are not, however, a particular effective one as stats show they create the fewest high quality chances in the league.
Christian Benteke, scorer of 19 goals last season, has struggled with injuries and poor form and no-one else has stepped up to provide a consistent secondary threat. Villa have the fifth worst scoring record in the division. With away matches against six of the current top eight still to come there may be some justification for concern.
Lambert has a number of long-term injury absentees, including Charles N’Zogbia (achilles), Jores Okore (knee) and Libor Kozak (broken leg), and is also likely to be without Chris Herd (hamstring) for Saturday’s match. Nathan Baker (concussion) is expected to return to the squad, while Grant Holt will hope to be involved after completing his loan move from Wigan.
Liverpool vs Aston Villa Betting Tips Verdict
Villa won 3-1 in last season’s equivalent fixture, with Benteke scoring twice, but have since lost twice at home to Liverpool, including a 1-0 defeat earlier this season. The two teams have two wins apiece in the last five meetings at Anfield, with the other encounter ending in a draw.
Festive period losses away to Chelsea and Manchester City aside, Liverpool are in good form and have won each of their last seven home league matches by a margin of two or more goals, scoring an average of 3.57 goals per match in the process. They will confident of continuing that scoring rate on Saturday.
Villa come into the fixture in very poor form and are having real problems creating chances in the final third. They have secured good results from each of last two visits to Anfield, but this season’s Liverpool side are a more impressive outfit and should be relatively comfortable victors.
- Back Liverpool -1.5 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 8/13 with Paddy Power.
- Suarez’s goals have tended to come in quantities of two or more so far this season, with six doubles, one hat-trick and one four-goal haul to his name. He is in white hot form and seems well poised to take advantage of a less than stellar Villa defence. Back Luis Suarez to score two or more goals @ best odds of 13/8 with Betfred.